• Written by Jade Sheen, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Deakin University
Problems sometimes arise when a child is going through a big change, such as starting school or welcoming a new sibling to the family. Shutterstock

Remember anxiously waiting for your child to take their first steps or speak their first words? It’s exhilarating when they reach a new stage in their development.

Every child grows and develops differently. Some will change at a steady pace and amaze us each day with a new skill or word, whereas others appear slow to change before taking a huge developmental leap.

These differences make us all unique – but they also make it a challenge to know when the worry is justified and when to seek help.


Read more: What’s in a milestone? Understanding your child’s development


A new Australian government initiative may ease parents’ concerns by supporting GPs to better understand infant and childhood development and, particularly, the early signs of mental health concerns.

A range of infant and child behaviours cause parents concern including tantrums, bed-wetting and withdrawal. So, what’s normal and when should you see your GP or other health practitioner?

Tantrums

Tantrums are a typical part of development for most children, and may look like emotions and behaviour that are out of control, such as crying, yelling, pushing, kicking or slamming doors.


Read more: 'No, I don't wanna... wahhhh!' A parent's guide to managing tantrums


Tantrums are most common in toddlers but can still occur for some primary school age children. Children’s brains develop at a rapid pace from infancy, and at around three to four years of age they begin to develop skills to better manage or “self-regulate” their emotions and behaviour.

Young children are still working out how to regulate their emotions. Leon Rafael/Shutterstock

Just like adults, when a child is going through a change (even if it’s an exciting one like the arrival of a new sibling or starting school) it becomes more difficult for them to self-regulate. This is when parents may notice an increase in tantrums or difficult behaviour.

When should you get help?

Parents might want to see their GP if their child has really long tantrums (more than 30 minutes), or has frequent tantrums (nearly every day for at least two weeks) that cause stress or distress in the child and/or those around them.

Bed-wetting

Bed-wetting is when children are able to use the toilet, and wet the bed at night without meaning to.

There is a wide window for the normal development of toileting skills. Timing depends on many factors including genetics, the child’s physical, emotional and cognitive development and readiness, and their environment.


Read more: Explainer: how do you stop children from wetting the bed?


When is bed-wetting a concern?

Bed-wetting is not considered to be of medical concern until six or seven years of age.

There is a wide window of normal development for staying dry through the night. Zdan Ivan/Shutterstock

However, parents should take note of changes in toileting, or any “regressions” – where children seem to lose skills or go backwards from whatever stage they’d previously reached.

Changes in toileting, including bed-wetting, can be a common response when children experience stress or change. Parents might want to see their GP if they are concerned about a change in their child’s usual toileting behaviour that lasts more than two weeks.

Withdrawal

Children vary a lot in terms of their natural level of social engagement. Some appear shy or are slow to warm up but in their own home or other familiar settings engage and communicate easily.

Withdrawal doesn’t refer to a shy child, but indicates a change in usual behaviour, or a persistent pattern where a child shows a lack of social interest and interaction, even in familiar settings.


Read more: Is my child being too clingy and how can I help?


Withdrawn children may avoid eye contact, talk less, and avoid social play and interaction with adults and children.

When to see your GP?

It can be difficult for parents to know the difference between their child’s normal nature and temperament, versus behaviour that may be of concern. Parents may want to see a GP if their child has never engaged well socially, such as avoiding eye contact, physical closeness, or avoiding social interactions.

Some children withdraw by avoiding interaction with adults and other children. Shutterstock/ChameleonsEye

Parents may also want to see a GP if they notice a change in their child’s social interactions, where the child suddenly avoids social interactions in one or more settings (home, school or childcare) where they were previously engaged and interactive.

How to get help

Parenting can be incredibly stressful, overwhelming and all-consuming. If you haven’t been around many children before or are new to parenting, it can be difficult to know if your child’s behaviour is normal or not.

For these reasons, it’s so important to have good support networks in place, including a trusted family GP. See your GP or other medical professional if your child’s behaviour:

  • is causing significant distress
  • is unusual for them and/or
  • has occurred almost every day for at least two weeks or less often for a couple of months.

Other services that can form part of your support network include your maternal and child health nurse, the Maternal and Child Health Line (Victoria, 13 22 29) or other parenting hotlines in your state or territory, and online resources such as the Raising Children Network.

To find other local health services such as psychology, you can access the National Health Services Directory.


Read more: Stressed about managing your child's behaviour? Here are four things every parent should know


Jade Sheen is a recipient of an Australian Government Office and Learning and Teaching grant and several Department of Health and Ageing grants.

Elizabeth Westrupp receives funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council

Authors: Jade Sheen, Associate Professor, School of Psychology, Deakin University

Read more http://theconversation.com/having-problems-with-your-kids-tantrums-bed-wetting-or-withdrawal-heres-when-to-get-help-125299

All You Need to Know About Trenchless Technology

For many years, the traditional sewerage lines and pipe developments were not enough due to the long wait and cracking. The traditional sewer pipe repairs involved cracking the earth to find the par...

News Company - avatar News Company

Before we rush to rebuild after fires, we need to think about where and how

A primary school in East Gippsland was burnt down in the current bushfire crisis. While Premier Daniel Andrews immediately committed to rebuilding the school as it was, media reported the local CFA ca...

Mark Maund, PhD Candidate, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle - avatar Mark Maund, PhD Candidate, School of Architecture and Built Environment, University of Newcastle

Australian sea lions are declining. Using drones to check their health can help us understand why

Australian sea lions (Neophoca cinerea) are one of the rarest pinnipeds in the world and they are declining. Jarrod Hodgson, CC BY-NDAustralian sea lions are in trouble. Their population has never rec...

Jarrod Hodgson, PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide - avatar Jarrod Hodgson, PhD Candidate, University of Adelaide

With costs approaching $100 billion, the fires are Australia's costliest natural disaster

It’s hard to estimate the eventual economic cost of Australia’s 2019-20 megafires, partly because they are still underway, and partly because it is hard to know the cost to attribute to de...

Paul Read, Climate Criminologist & Senior Instructor/Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University - avatar Paul Read, Climate Criminologist & Senior Instructor/Lecturer, Faculty of Medicine, Monash University

In cases of cardiac arrest, time is everything. Community responders can save lives

Cardiac arrest can occur with little or no warning in people who were previously healthy, including young people. From shutterstock.comEach year more than 24,000 Australians experience a sudden cardia...

Bill Lord, Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash University - avatar Bill Lord, Adjunct Associate Professor, Monash University

So the government gave sports grants to marginal seats. What happens now?

When Australians pay their income tax, they assume the money is going to areas of the community that need it, rather than being used by the government to shore up votes for the next election. This is...

Maria O'Sullivan, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, and Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University - avatar Maria O'Sullivan, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, and Deputy Director, Castan Centre for Human Rights Law, Monash University

The Olympics have always been a platform for protest. Banning hand gestures and kneeling ignores their history

It is the year of the Tokyo Olympics, and the International Olympic Committee was quickly out of the blocks with new guidelines regarding athlete protests. The IOC is worried the biggest stories of...

David Rowe, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University - avatar David Rowe, Emeritus Professor of Cultural Research, Institute for Culture and Society, Western Sydney University

Where Can You Get Weed By Ordering It Online?

Nowadays, everyone wants to get their hands on some weed. Marijuana has become legalized in a lot of countries worldwide. People wait in lines for days to buy some. You couldn’t have imagined that...

News Company - avatar News Company

Hidden women of history: Catherine Hay Thomson, the Australian undercover journalist who went inside asylums and hospitals

Catherine Hay Thomson went undercover as an assistant nurse for her series on conditions at Melbourne Hospital. A. J. Campbell Collection/National Library of AustraliaIn this series, we look at under...

Kerrie Davies, Lecturer, School of the Arts & Media, UNSW - avatar Kerrie Davies, Lecturer, School of the Arts & Media, UNSW

Sick and Tired of Your Dead End Job? Try Teaching!

Tired of the same old grind at the office? Want an opportunity to impact lives both in your community and around the world? Do you love to travel and have new experiences? Teaching English is the perfect job for you! All you need is a willingness to ...

News Company - avatar News Company

The Impact of an Aging Population in Australia

There’s an issue on the horizon that Australia needs to prepare for. The portion of elderly citizens that make up the country’s overall population is increasing, and we might not have the infrastructure in place to support this. Australians h...

News Company - avatar News Company